The best way to Get Into Biking: Bike Fundamentals

by jpc_touring-bicycle

Welcome again to the saddle! By studying this, you might be already taking that first step in direction of getting on a bicycle for enjoyable or fundamental transportation. That is superior, and REI is right here that will help you go for it.

So what has you eager about driving your bike? There are in actual fact a number of nice causes to mud off your bike (and even experience for the very first time). Our favorites embrace:

Getting some train.
Doing all your half to be extra “inexperienced.”
Avoiding the excessive value of gasoline.
Avoiding all these different car-related bills: parking, repairs, insurance coverage.
Getting some contemporary air.
Lowering your stress stage.
Seeing your environs at a slower tempo.

Sounds nice, you say, however let’s get actual for a minute. Most of us have discovered loads of causes NOT to go driving, so let’s tackle these fears one after the other.


12 Biking Myths, Uncovered!


Fable #1: Biking requires an excessive amount of gear.

Actuality: The essential requirements for biking are simply you, a motorbike and a helmet. Whereas different gear is sweet to have, it may well come later. Simply get on a motorbike and go.


Fable #2: It is expensive to purchase a motorbike and biking gear.

Actuality: Perhaps, but it surely’s far cheaper than shopping for and working a automobile. Per a 2013 AAA research, a automobile prices a mean of $9,122 per yr to function (based mostly on 15,000 miles). Bikes, then again, do not want gasoline and are free to park. They’ve fewer elements and require less-expensive upkeep.

Fable #3: Solely costly bikes are any good.

Actuality: Whereas dear bikes will be “nicer” to experience, nearly any bike in good working situation can get you to the place you need to go. It could take you longer or not have gears for uphills, however you’re going to get there.


Fable #4: Biking takes an excessive amount of time.

Actuality: It normally requires further planning and driving time, however, relying on the space and visitors, it’d truly take much less time to bike than it does to drive. Plus, you burn energy and might run errands when you experience.


Fable #5: Bicycling is simply too harmful.

Actuality: Most cyclists experience for a few years with out mishap. Performing like a driver, being predictable, carrying vivid clothes, being conscious of your environment, anticipating driver conduct, making eye contact with drivers, having arms prepared on brakes, awaiting automobile doorways opening, following visitors guidelines and claiming your lane will assist enhance your security. For particulars, see the REI Professional Recommendation article, Using Your Bike in Visitors.


Fable #6: Bike seats are uncomfortable.

Actuality: Bikes normally include a generic, unisex saddle. If yours feels uncomfortable, strive upgrading to 1 with gel padding or one which’s gender particular. Bike seats additionally come in numerous shapes and sizes, akin to cutaway fashions. For particulars, see the REI Professional Recommendation article, Bike Saddles: The best way to Select.


Fable #7: I am clueless about how you can keep my bike.

Actuality: That is OK; it is simple to study the fundamentals. Join a category at your native REI retailer or benefit from our on-line how-to movies and articles. Or, if bike-maintenance is admittedly not your factor, there isn’t any disgrace in taking your experience to your REI Bike Store for an expert tune-up or restore.


Fable #8: I am too out of practice to experience.

Actuality: Using your bike will make it easier to get again into form. At first, do not be afraid to cease and stroll—particularly on a hill. The extra you bike, the simpler it’s going to get. After all, if in case you have a severe well being situation, examine together with your physician earlier than driving.


Fable #9: You may’t carry a lot stuff on a motorbike.

Actuality: You would be stunned what number of groceries or work gadgets you’ll be able to deliver on a motorbike. Begin by carrying a daypack or messenger bag, or add a rack and carry your issues in panniers or attachable baggage. For even larger hundreds, take into account a motorbike trailer.


Fable #10: It is too far for me to commute to work.

Actuality: You may at all times experience simply a part of the best way or just one manner. Drive to a special place to begin to scale back the space. Catch a experience to work with somebody and bike residence. Or take the bus—most have a rack in entrance for bicycles.


Fable #11: I am going to get sweaty.

Actuality: Generally this may be troublesome to keep away from, however you’ll be able to at all times simply experience casually to keep away from an excessive amount of exertion. If potential, experience within the morning when it is cooler. Keep in mind, once you’re biking you’ll normally catch a breeze to assist cool off.


Fable #12: My work garments will get wrinkled.

Actuality: For those who resolve to experience to work, pack alongside work garments with materials which might be much less vulnerable to wrinkles when packed, or use packing folders and cubes to scale back wrinkles. On these days once you’re driving or going by bus, deliver garments to your bike-riding days so you do not have to hold them once you experience.


Earlier than You Journey


Bike Upkeep

A motorcycle that’s in form makes the experience rather more gratifying. In case your bike hasn’t been utilized in a very long time otherwise you’ve seen a selected drawback, take it to your native REI Bike Store or impartial bike store for a tune-up. If you wish to do the tune-up your self, learn our Professional Recommendation article on bike upkeep, take a category or get a e-book that teaches the fundamentals of motorbike upkeep.


Video: Pre-ride Inspection


Earlier than taking your bike out for a spin, make sure that it is snug, secure and able to go. Our video demonstrates among the pointers defined under:

Measurement: Does the bike suit you? There must be at the very least 1″-2″ of clearance between you and the highest tube (bar) on a street bike and at the very least 2″-4″ on a mountain bike.
Seat peak: Test that the saddle (seat) is adjusted on the proper peak for you.

Private choice determines whether or not the saddle must be tipped ahead, stage or backward.
Having the saddle on the proper peak and ahead/aft place for pedaling is vital to your knees. The right place is achieved when, together with your leg prolonged within the 6 o’clock place, your knee is simply barely bent.

Wheels: Ensure that the quick-release levers (or bolts on older bikes) are totally secured.
Brakes: Squeeze the brake levers to see if the brake pads press onto the tire rims or rotors (on disc brakes). The pads hitting the edges/rotors are what make you cease.
Rims: Elevate up the bike and spin the wheels. The edges must be straight and never wobble noticeably from side-to-side or up-and-down.
Tires: Test for cracks or extreme put on. Ensure that they’re inflated to the proper stress (indicated on the tire sidewall).
Body and headset: Test the body for cracks. Maintain within the entrance brake and rock the bike forwards and backwards. Extreme play means the headset wants adjusting. Don’t experience a motorbike with a cracked body or free headset.
Gears: Spin the crank and shift by way of the gears. The chain ought to switch easily from gear to gear.
Cranks: These are the arms attaching the pedals to the bike. Give each a pull to verify they’re tight. Don’t experience a motorbike with a free crank.
Chain: Ensure that it’s lubricated. Rotate the crank backwards and search for hitches within the motion.


Match Your Helmet

A helmet can solely work should you put on it. In actual fact, helmets are 85%-88% efficient in stopping head and mind accidents. (Supply: The Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration, Additionally, some state or native legal guidelines require a helmet, and you may even get a ticket should you do not put on one.

Tip: In your state and chosen worldwide information, go to the Bicycle Helmet Security Institute’s Website,

It is also vital to have it match correctly. Heads come in numerous sizes and so do helmets, so get the fitting measurement. For tip on adjusting the match, watch our helmet-fitting video above.

Listed here are the essential steps:

Modify the match dial or cinching mechanism (or add/take away inside pads if supplied) so the helmet matches snugly, however comfortably.
The helmet must be stage in your head, about 1 or 2 finger-widths above the eyebrow. If it falls under the eyebrows, it’s too massive. If it doesn’t attain to only above the eyebrows, it’s too small.
The place the straps type a “Y,” make sure that the slider is slightly below the earlobe.
A buckled chinstrap must be comfortable with not more than 1 or 2 fingers width house between the chin and the strap.
Closing checks:

Shake your head. If the helmet strikes to a special place, readjust so it is safer.
It is best to be capable to open your mouth vast with out the chinstrap pulling the helmet down.

In america, helmets should meet the requirements of the Client Product Security Fee (CSPC). A CSPC label could also be discovered contained in the helmet or on the packaging.

Tip: For youngsters, do not buy a helmet “to develop into.” Get one that matches proper for correct safety.


Decide a Secure Route

It could be a no brainer on which route you need to take, however should you’re unsure:

Ask a fellow bicycle owner: If there’s a pal or coworker who already bikes to work, speak to her or him. Contact an area biking membership or bike store. Generally they’ll have native insights you’ll be able to’t discover on-line.

Go surfing: Test the web sites of native biking golf equipment, metropolis transportation departments or your state’s Division of Transportation. Message boards will be useful, too. Ones in your space can help you with routes or reply questions you may need.

When deciding on your route, take into account street development, heavy visitors, crime drawback areas, canines, hills and whether or not or not the streets have a motorbike lane or shoulder.

Tip: Attempt Google’s instructions at, zoom into your space then kind your begin and finish deal with. Click on and drag on it to vary routes. You get a route and mileage totals, too.


Take a Apply Spin

To experience a motorbike, you simply have to know how you can pedal, steer and cease. Get reacquainted the basics of controlling your momentum. Keep in mind to at all times observe the principles of the street and concentrate on your environment.

If it has been some time because you final saddled up, listed below are a couple of ideas to your first day trip:

Discover a vacant parking zone, sidewalk or paved biking path that isn’t crowded.
Get a really feel for the brakes—squeeze the levers slowly and gently. When braking, squeeze the rear brake first after which the entrance brake. Stopping rapidly with the entrance brake solely could cause the entrance tire to lock and the rear tire to stand up. And meaning you may go over the handlebar!
Coast together with your toes within the air and get a really feel of steering and steadiness.
Subsequent strive utilizing the pedals, steering after which the brakes. Keep away from braking and steering on the identical time, particularly with the entrance brake.
If utilizing clip-in pedals, apply clipping in and unclipping, releasing and stopping.
Earlier than happening the street and in visitors, apply beginning and stopping uphill and downhill. For extra particulars on driving uphill see climbing hills. For more information on driving downhill, see driving downhill.

Tip: Hold the pedals in a horizontal place when braking. This helps present extra braking energy and retains your toes away from any street hazards.


Using Ideas

Subsequent, get in your bike and go. Go to a retailer for an errand, bike to a pal’s home or meet somebody for espresso. Give your self a aim. On weekends, you may need to bike to your office to get a really feel for what it will be commuting through the week (bear in mind, visitors will most probably be heavier when biking throughout commute hours).

For those who do need to cycle to work, take into account simply making an attempt it one-way at first. Take the bus or have somebody drop you and your bike at work within the morning, after which strive biking residence when you do not have the stress of attending to work on time.

Tip: Discover a pal or coworker who is usually a mentor. Or take into account a fundamental street biking class with the REI Out of doors Faculty.


Shifting Gears

Shifting on the optimum instances will make your experience simpler. You do not need to be pedaling in a excessive gear when going uphill; you will be exhausted. You need to use a decrease gear so you are not pushing on the pedals so onerous.

You will even have extra enjoyable when cruising on the downhill in a excessive gear at a quick pace. The simpler it’s to pedal, the extra you’ll be able to shift up. Or, you’ll be able to take the downhill slowly and pump the brakes to decease pace.

No matter gear mixture you are utilizing, attempt to hold the chain so it’s not being stretched diagonally. As an example, keep away from being on a excessive chainring and first gear. This strategy encourages an extended chainring life.



You probably have a motorbike pc in your bike, you’ll be able to examine the cadence (the variety of instances your pedals go round per minute). Probably the most environment friendly cadence, or pedaling price, is between 70 to 90 revolutions per minute.


Using in Visitors

Perhaps you are one of many fortunate ones who’ve a chosen bike path to make use of or a marked bike lane. However at a while or some place, you will most likely must experience in visitors.

It is actually not that scary. Typically, bicyclists observe the identical guidelines of the street as automobile drivers. Simply faux you are driving your automobile as an alternative of your bike. On this manner, drivers know what to anticipate, and it is safer for everybody.

Using pointers:

Go together with visitors, not towards it.
Comply with visitors indicators, indicators and pavement markings.
Yield to pedestrians and different autos.
Get off of the street once you’re not shifting.
Do not go on the fitting.
Watch what is occurring behind you. To make this simpler, take into account carrying a helmet-mounted or eyeglass-mounted mirror.
If there are greater than 5 vehicles behind you, pull over and allow them to go.
Journey straight, and do not swerve out and in of visitors.
When turning, slowing or stopping, use hand indicators to let others know what you might be doing.
Look again over your shoulder, particularly when altering lanes or making a flip.
Put on one thing vivid; do not count on drivers to see you.
Look ahead to autos popping out of alleys, they could not see you.
Make noise—use a horn, bell or whistle or yell.
Semi-trucks have a blind spot when turning; keep out of this blind spot.
If a automobile blocks your view, transfer to the facet or decelerate to see round it.
Be able to brake, protecting your arms close to or on the brake levers so you’ll be able to cease quick.
To see hazards, hold at the very least 4 toes of distance between you and any automobile.
Pedal sturdy when going by way of intersections.
Look ahead to drivers who neglect to sign.
Be predictable.

Tip: Simply since you’re on a motorbike, doesn’t suggest you’ll be able to’t be cited for a visitors violation. Comply with the principles of the street.


Video: Bike Hand Indicators


Lane Place

This can be a widespread dialogue amongst cyclists, particularly these of us who experience solely often.

Our ideas:

Keep to the fitting when lanes are vast and there may be a number of room. This permits autos to go you most simply.
Declare the lane (i.e., experience within the heart of the lane) in these conditions:

The place roads are too slender for vehicles to securely go
You are in a tunnel, underpass or darkish space
When a parked automobile’s doorways are opening
The place there are sewer grates, uneven shoulders and particles
For those who’re shifting on the identical pace because the visitors. This makes you extra seen and extra prone to be handed solely when there may be sufficient room.


Using Hazards
Don’t use headphones. Hearken to your environment.
Watch and pay attention for automobile doorways opening. Do not experience nearer than 4 toes to a automobile, and pay attention for hints of motion.
Look ahead to floor hazards like drain grates that may catch your tire.
Do not observe a automobile so intently that you’ve got a blind spot. You could not see a hazard (e.g., a pothole) till it is too late.
Look ahead to particles or tough roadways.
Attempt to cross railroad tracks at a 90-degree angle to keep away from catching a tire.
When driving on a freeway and being handed by a big truck or bus, be ready to be pulled to the left from the automobile’s wake.
When passing different cyclists or walkers, ring a bell or announce “in your left” so they do not swerve into you.
Hold house between you and different cyclists.


Darkness and Dangerous Climate

You need to see and be seen when visibility is poor:

Use a white entrance gentle and a crimson, flashing rear gentle.
Contemplate a headlamp or helmet-mounted headlight to present you extra gentle and to assist achieve a driver’s consideration.
Have reflectors on each the entrance and rear of your bike. New bikes include them, however chances are you’ll need to add extra for further visibility.
Improve visibility by including reflectors or reflective tape on shifting components of your bike.
Put on vivid clothes.
Put on a reflective vest, jacket, wristbands and/or leg bands.

In moist or chilly climate:

Give your self further room in rain, ice, frost, snow or fog. When it’s moist, the pavement shall be oily and slippery. Your brakes shall be moist, too.
Bridges and overpasses shall be icier than roads.


The Bus and the Biker

Some bike commuters do a mix of biking and taking a bus. Relying on the place you reside, buses could provide a entrance rack to carry bicycles. Whereas there are normally directions printed on the bike rack, it’s as much as you to load your bike correctly. Bikes with youngster carriers or no-spoke wheels normally can’t be placed on the rack. Some bikes with vast handlebars or lengthy wheelbases may not match.

Put together the bike for loading earlier than the bus arrives. Take away all free gadgets (pumps, helmets, water bottles, and so on.).
Don’t step in entrance of the bus till the motive force sees you.
Load your bike within the spot farthest from the bus or within the subsequent open place.
Elevate the help arm and hook it over the entrance tire. Ensure that the help arm clamps the tire, not the body or fender.
At your cease, remind the motive force you’ll be unloading your bike earlier than you exit.
Take away the help arm, decrease it into place and take away your bike. Fold the rack up whether it is empty.
Step onto the sidewalk and watch for the bus to depart.

For those who’re simply driving to the park-and-ride, search for a safe option to retailer your bike there after you hop a bus or do a carpool or vanpool. Some transit amenities have lockers for this goal.


Parking and Locking Your Bike

Regardless of the place you experience, it is a good suggestion to safe your bike.

If commuting, attempt to hold your bike in your workplace or different secured space.
If you’re parking outdoors, use a motorbike rack or another safe, unmovable object and ideally lock BOTH wheels and the body to it. Most bikes provide a quick-release entrance tire to facilitate this effort.
All the time lock it to one thing—do not lock simply the bike—as it’s simple to select up and carry away.
Keep in mind, aluminum or picket posts, timber or to chain hyperlink fences may look safe, however they are often reduce by decided thieves.
Test with the native police division for guidelines on the place bikes will be parked and locked. Some locations could also be unlawful.

Use both a cable lock, a U-lock, one among every, 2 U-locks and/or a combo lock. The extra time and bother it takes a thief to assault your bike lock, the much less probably it’s shall be taken. See the REI Professional Recommendation article, Bike Locks: The best way to Select for particulars.
Attempt to lock it in a well-lighted, well-traveled location.
Some parking heaps provide a spot for bikes at a decreased parking price.
Unfasten and carry with you any components that may be simply eliminated—bike bag, pump, pc, lights or quick-release seat.


Register your bike’s serial quantity with the Nationwide Bike Registry ( In case your bike will get stolen and is later recovered, irrespective of the place, it may be returned to you.
Even should you do not want a lock through the workday, have one with you in case you cease someplace alongside your route.
Don’t use a lock bigger than you really want. A decent-fitting lock makes it tougher for thieves to get their instruments into place to strive breaking the lock.
You probably have a tubular pin-tumbler-style lock made in 2004 or earlier, you need to change it. Thieves have discovered how you can disable these locks.


Taking It to the Subsequent Degree

OK, you’ve got taken a couple of quick rides, and now you are prepared for extra. That is the time to start out eager about a couple of of the extras that may make your rides extra snug. For a printer-friendly model of this, go to our Fundamental Bike Guidelines.


Core Restore Objects

Until you are simply driving across the block, you need to at all times carry this stuff.

Spare tube or a tire-patch equipment
Tire levers
Biking multi-tool (with Allen wrenches)

Tip: If buying a spare tube, be sure to select a appropriate measurement. Tire/tube measurement data will be discovered on the sidewall of most tires.


Core Gear

Convey some or all of those based mostly in your wants.

Eye safety (sun shades and clear lenses)
Water: For a brief experience, carry a water bottle hooked up in a bottle cage. For longer rides, it’s your decision a hydration pack.
Snacks or power meals
Medical information/emergency contact card
Cellular phone (for when you do not really feel like altering a tire and need to name a pal or taxi).


Bike Clothes

For informal rides or quick commutes, chances are you’ll need to simply put on your informal/work garments. For longer rides or commutes, put on extra conventional biking gear for larger driving consolation. You may at all times change at your office or vacation spot if crucial.

Suggestions in approximate order of usefulness:

Biking shorts or pants: For longer rides, you want the additional consolation.
Moisture-wicking jersey: Helps hold you dry and regulate physique temperature whereas driving.
Padded gloves: These take up vibration and hold your fingers heat.
Socks: Light-weight, artificial kinds assist wick moisture away out of your pores and skin.
Jacket or vest: This is determined by climate circumstances.
Biking sneakers: Commuter sneakers or cleats make pedaling extra environment friendly.
Bike booties: These match over your bike sneakers for further water-resistance.
Helmet liner: Put on this beneath your helmet on chilly days.
Tights or leg heaters: Added insulation for cooler days.


Costume in layers so you’ll be able to add or take away clothes as climate and your physique temperature change.
Use sneakers that haven’t any vents or holes to maintain toes hotter.


Different Gear

Suggestions in approximate order of want:

Bell, horn or whistle: A bicycle owner’s model of a automobile horn.
Mirror: To see what’s behind you. Connect one to your helmet, glasses or handlebars.
Fenders: Safety from mud and water.
Further reflectors: Most bikes include some, however you’ll be able to add extra for further visibility.
Headlight: Helps you see and be seen.
Taillight: Helps you be seen higher at night time or nightfall.
Further batteries: For headlights and taillights.
Cargo rack: An excellent base for carrying groceries and equipment.
Trailers: For hauling the youngsters, canine or your gear.
Clip-in pedals and biking sneakers: For larger pedaling effectivity.
Bike pc: Takes the guesswork out of your distance and pace, plus provides different information.


The best way to Carry Your Gear

This is determined by your private preferences and the way a lot you need to take with you:

Underseat bag (a.okay.a. saddlebag): Suits straight beneath the saddle. Often used to carry core restore gadgets and different small requirements.
Rack trunk: With a rack on the rear, these baggage match straight on prime and maintain sufficient small gear for a lot of riders.
Panniers: Connect to the rack on the again of your bike. They’re an awesome answer for groceries or bigger quantities of labor/touring gear.
Entrance rack bag: Connect to a rack over the entrance tire, very similar to panniers.
Messenger bag (laptop computer messenger): Has an extended strap to sling over your shoulder; some have extra padded strap to hold it like a briefcase. Inside compartments are normally designed to carry a laptop computer and different workplace wants. Others have sufficient room to suit a towel, sneakers and garments, too.
Daypack: Conveniently attaches to you relatively than the bike.
Handlebar bag: Attaches to the handlebar to hold small gadgets for straightforward entry. Some have a transparent, waterproof compartment so you’ll be able to see your map or purchasing checklist.
Baskets: Are available variations that may connect to the handlebars or to a rack on again. Some are removable with a deal with, so you may use it as a purchasing basket, too.


Arriving at Work or Your Vacation spot

Cleansing Up: For those who’re lucky sufficient to have showers at your office, you could have it simple. If not, you are not utterly out of luck. Attempt these recommendations:

The “birdbath” possibility: Simply use a washcloth, small towel and a toilet sink to clean up.
Pre-moistened towelettes can work in a pinch.
Be part of a close-by gymnasium. Some gyms will even promote you a “bathe solely” membership at a decreased price.
Hold your cleansing and primping provides on the office or gymnasium so that you wouldn’t have to hold them on the commute, too.
If you cannot wash up as a lot as you want, take into account taking your bike on the bus with you within the morning, after which bike residence after work when it would not matter should you get sweaty.

Dressing Up:

You may both carry your work garments with you, or you’ll be able to shuttle a provide of contemporary garments to your office on a non-biking day. For those who wouldn’t have a locker room, strive your desk, a closet, behind a door and even between partitions for storage.
Attempt to use clothes that’s much less prone to wrinkle.
Hold further sneakers on the office.
Hold a set of unpolluted underwear, socks and equipment on the office in case you neglect at some point.


Biking Q&A

Q: Is a costlier helmet safer?

A: No, all helmets should meet CSPC requirements. Helmets enhance in worth for consolation or efficiency options akin to extra vents or much less weight.


Q: What ought to I do if it rains?

A: You do not have to bike that day, or you’ll be able to gown in biking rain gear and nonetheless experience comfortably.


Q: What if there are not any showers at my work?

A: For those who can, experience to work at an informal tempo so you do not get too sweaty. You may experience residence at a quicker tempo for a greater exercise. Some folks do not bathe, others discover a close by gymnasium.


Q: What’s one of the best ways to hold groceries or work residence?

A: There are a lot of sorts of gear-carrying options for bikes, starting from daypacks to panniers. For carrying youngsters, canines or actually massive gear hundreds, take into account a motorbike trailer.


Q: The place can I find out about bicycle restore?

A: Your native REI Bike Store provides common clinics and lessons. Different native bike golf equipment and shops could provide lessons, too, or examine with the League of American Cyclists for his or her class information.


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